Poll workers reflect current job market

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

Job security has become a concern for a number of Marshall County residents who've served as county-paid poll officials, according to the elections administrator here.

Previously, unemployment was among the reasons area residents gave when applying to be poll workers, election officials have said. The labor market situation was revealed recently when the Marshall County Election Commission met.

"We've had a lot of people who lost their jobs and became poll workers, but now that they've got a job and they can't be a poll worker," Elections Administrator Tristan Arnold said.

"But they still want to stay on the list of people who could be called to be poll workers," Arnold said.

It would appear, Arnold agreed, to be an indication that the economy is improving here, but that people don't feel secure enough to say they'd always pass on an opportunity to work a day and be paid $100 or more.

The Marshall County Election Commission pays poll workers $100 to work on Election Day. A poll official is paid $110 on Election Day. Both kinds of election poll officials are paid $10 for their time when they attend a training session.

Election days usually last 13 hours, leaving an hourly rate of $7.69 for poll workers and $8.46 for poll officials. Training sessions usually last about two hours, so workers and officers are paid $5 an hour each.

Training sessions include explanations on how to operate the voting machines as well as how to enforce the voter ID law. Voters must present a government card with their photo to indicate they are who they say they are.

If there's no photo ID, a registered voter would be issued a provisional ballot allowing them to fill out a ballot, but it would be held until a photo ID was produced.

Meanwhile, Arnold reports: "We're in the process of mailing out new voter registration cards to more than 15,000 people. Voters need to note possible voting poll place changes."

Because of reapportionment required by the Constitution and the court-established one-man, one-vote ruling, county district lines have changed and there are county residents who are now in different districts and they are to vote at different polls. Where is indicated on the voter registration cards mailed this week.